The Associated Press says reporters should no longer label those who question the theory of man-made global warming as “skeptics,” but instead should refer to them as global warming “doubters.”
The AP updated its Stylebook Tuesday, telling reporters who follow the manual “to use climate change doubters or those who reject mainstream climate science and to avoid the use of skeptics or deniers.”
The move comes after environmentalists submitted a petition to The AP, demanding it no longer those who question aspects of global warming science “skeptics.” The group ClimateTruth.org, which submitted the petition, wanted The AP to suggest reporters use the term “denier.”
The AP, however, thought using the term “denier” was too controversial, and instead opted to suggest calling them “doubters.” The AP said “[those] who reject climate science say the phrase denier has the pejorative ring of Holocaust denier” so they prefer the terms “climate change doubter or someone who rejects mainstream science.”
“The AP’s guidance against the use of the term ‘denier’ in favor of ‘doubter’ is short-sighted and misleading,” ClimateTruth.org Campaign Director Brant Olson said in a statement. “By characterizing individuals who deny the reality of climate change as merely doubters, the AP is perpetuating an air of legitimacy it has already deemed inappropriate for this group.”
Scientists and environmentalists concerned about global warming have sparred over what to call those who question the validity of human-caused climate change. Like the phrase “global warming” itself, its critics have been called everything from deniers to confusers to skeptics.
Those who question global warming have preferred to be called skeptics, especially since there are varying levels of disagreement among skeptics about what’s wrong with global warming science. Many skeptics actually agree that carbon dioxide causes warming, but they say its effects are mild and not much can be done to stop it.
Other skeptics, however, argue that while greenhouse gas theory may be true, the climate is a chaotic system and there hasn’t been real-world evidence linking carbon dioxide levels to warming above natural variations.
Some critics have pointed out that even if global warming is going to be catastrophic, the policies being preached by Democrats and environmentalists will only serve to make people worse off while doing little to solve the problem. They argue the poor will be hurt by the very policies meant to help them.
“For developing countries, reducing carbon dioxide emissions means reducing economic growth and human progress,” wrote scientist Chip Knappenberger with the libertarian Cato Institute, who’s considered a skeptic. “For populations in these parts of the world, limiting carbon dioxide emissions by restricting fossil fuel use may, in fact, prove dangerous — much more so than the threats that a changing climate may bring.”
But it seems no matter how reasonable the objections of warming critics, those who are concerned about the climate insist they are “deniers” who need to be shut out from the debate.
The Center for Skeptical Inquiry told The AP global warming critics hijacked the term “skeptic” from real skeptics. They argue that “proper skepticism promotes scientific inquiry, critical investigation and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims.” The group says they still like the term “climate change deniers” for those that disagree with them.
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